Aaron Liddard – Nylon Man


For a metalhead to decide to review a jazz album, it must be pretty special. And so it is. If you have an open mind for other genres and don’t like to confine music in a tight box, you may appreciate this piece of work even if you are not a jazz lover.

To say that Nylon Man is a jazz album might be a tad too simplistic, anyway.

This is the life work of Aaron Liddard, a London based multi instrumentalist, who has spent, on and off, around 12 years creating his debut album: a beautiful mish mash dabbling into a number of different genres that orbits loosely around the planet of jazz. His primary instrument is saxophone, however this is not a typical sax album. Aaron’s work seems to be about breaking stereotypes and not following conventional paths, which is when great music happens.

To start with, sax is not necessarily the lead instrument here – if your expectations are based on the works of musicians like, David Sanborn and Candy Dulfer. This album is a massive collaboration of 42 musicians, so is a full bodied and masterfully developed project rather than a compilation of standalone tracks showcasing sax perfection. There are not many saxophone solos, and in most tracks they compliment the vocal parties or echo them like a duet.

The choice of voices is very interesting, too. Five vocalists sing on this album, each one different and super talented – which is when the stereotype about jazz comes in handy, as one thing this genre boasts is fantastic singers.

There are a couple of tracks that stand out as mainstream worthy, i.e. potential hit material for radio stations. The undisputed hit is the beautiful ‘Snowdrops’ with its fantastic melody. The curves of the tune are unexpected at times and make it a delightful song to listen to. What takes it to perfection is the voice: deep and warm, going through an octave and a half like a piece of cake. The vocal performance of Giulia Marelli is beautiful throughout the entire album. In ‘Thru Your Eyes’, she sings softly, at times as if breathing through the melody.

The album starts with the deep vocals of that same singer and falsely leads you to think this is easy-listen stuff. Halfway through the song it becomes clear that this is, actually, more of hard-core jazz, making a rock fan think: shoot, what did I get myself into? Which is not really surprising considering the fact this track was meant as a tribute to the late Chick Corea. Its second part is a classic chaotic type of jazz – ending on a gentle beautiful wink, as if to say: don’t worry, you’ll be fine. This song, as well as the second one, will probably be appreciated by discerned jazz lovers.

The second track ‘Frisco’ is a contemporary track performed by a well known in the industry singer, Carleen Anderson. This arty performance is followed by an easy to listen to romantic duet in the rhythm of bossa nova with a catchy little tune – ‘Together Forever’. Just as you may be fooled into thinking this is just a pop song, you will hear some jazz solos thrown in, as well as heavier drums and bass – to remind you this is a different kind of music.

‘Chicken Soup’ is exactly what it says on the tin; a perfect balance of jazz that will appeal to jazzmen but also to listeners of other genres. The beautiful piano parts are performed by the man himself, who plays that instrument just as perfectly as sax.

There are also a couple of funky sax led tracks – the kind of music you would hear by the likes of David Sanborn, and delivered at their level of world standard, too. One of these songs is ‘Apples and Pears’. It has an elaborate development: starts off with a great lead tune; midway turns into an abstract jazz track, only to change into a fast paced, nearly disco rhythm. Another funky song is ‘One Million Children’, which also keeps you on your toes with unpredictable twists: starting as a warm nurturing track with inspirational spiritual message, changing into a sarcastically charged political rapping speech, which then flows into a warm wave of unconditional love washing over you.

Traveling through different genres is something Aaron does effortlessly and the results are interesting and a pleasure to listen to. Another example of this approach is the track ‘My Kinda’. The style and moods of the songs are arranged intentionally. The order of the songs was suggested by Eric Young (drums/percussion). As explained by the author, ‘The ideal is to take you on a fluid journey. The CD version visits all extremes to deliver you back to peacefulness and balance. The vinyl version is all the most peaceful songs.’

This explains why after the fantastic ‘Snowdrops’, you will be whisked away to hot beaches and cocktails with the Spanish vibes of ‘Manana’ – and, afterwards, it is time to wind down with the peaceful and melancholic ‘Beautiful’. Which is also a time to pour yourself another drink and spin the disc all over again.

Track List:

  1. Corean Castaway

  2. Frisco (feat. Carleen Anderson)

  3. Together Forever

  4. Chicken Soup

  5. Thru Your Eyes

  6. Apples & Pears

  7. My Kinda

  8. Catfood

  9. Snowdrops

  10. Manana (feat. Omar Puente)

  11. Beautiful (feat. Miss Baby Sol)

  12. One Million Children